Many small businesses continue to stick with the same traditional advertising methods they have always used instead of taking advantage of online marketing.

“You have to stay up to date with the times,” says Tech.Co. “If you continue to rely on outdated marketing techniques, you could fall way behind competitors that have adopted newer strategies more in keeping with modern retailing. This could cause you to lose market share as result.”

Are you still struggling with traditional marketing methods that cost you money but don’t deliver results? If so, read on to see why you should be tapping digital resources to promote your brand and get more customers knocking on your door.

Why you should start focusing on online marketing

Online marketing is an important part of building brand awareness, connecting with consumers, and driving traffic—and revenue—to both your online store and your brick and mortar establishment.

This is especially evident in the following online marketing statistics from Baunfire:

  • 89% of consumers use search engines for purchase decisions.
  • 79% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
  • 71% of consumers are more likely to purchase based on social media referrals.

As the above data indicates, online marketing has caused a major shift in how consumers make purchase decisions. If you want to attract the attention of modern consumers, you need to change your marketing strategy accordingly. Keep in mind, too, that if customers can’t find you online, you risk losing them to your competitors.

Baunfire suggests reserving 30 minutes out of your day to take advantage of the following 9 strategies to make a big difference in your foot traffic results within a few months—if not weeks:

1. Claim your business listings on business directories, social networks, review sites, and rating aggregators – According to Moz, local SEO Starts with claiming your business listings. Here’s 3 good ones to start with:

  • Google My Business – Connects you directly with customers whether they’re looking for you on Search, Maps or Google+.
  • Yelp! – #1 portal for people to find local businesses. Millions of users visit Yelp every month.
  • Bing Places – As the second largest search engine provider, Bing offers free services for local business to get found.

In addition to building trust by verifying that you are the owner of a valid business and authorized to maintain its presence on the web, claiming your listings can improve your search engine performance and makes it easier to be discovered by potential customers who are using social media to find businesses.

Online business profiles often come with analytics and stats to help you understand your audience better. You can then turn this information into actions that will gain you a competitive advantage. Furthermore, most listing and review sites have their own dedicated apps that enable users to discover local businesses using their mobile devices.

2. Encourage your customers to write reviews – Review sites have their own methods of ranking business pages according to user search queries. The more reviews you receive—and the higher the ratings—the better your chances are to stand apart from other businesses by ranking in the top most positions.

Getting good customer reviews means that you not only have to provide awesome products or services, but you’ll need to know how to effectively engage customers and develop a strategy that prompts happy customers to write a few positive words on your behalf.

3. Use social media – Being present on social media will give your local business a huge advantage. For one thing, it significantly increases the trustworthiness of your brand and broadens the window for direct conversations with your customers and prospects. Additionally, social media channels help you gain valuable feedback to improve your products and services.

While social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, and YouTube all have millions of users, you don’t have to register for all of them. Just select a few that your target audiences are most active in.

4. Manage your online reputation with Google Alerts – Make sure you don’t miss out on instances when your customers are talking about your business or products online.

By Setting up Google Alert, you’ll receive instant emails whenever Google has indexed a new page referring to your brand. You can also use this feature to track your competitors.

5. Engage your customers in online conversations – Now that you’ve set up Google Alerts, don’t hesitate to join in conversations where your customers and prospects are asking questions or complaining about your products or services across multiple social network communities. By addressing their inquiries and concerns you’ll not only solve problems and defuse potential issues, but you’ll send a positive message to audiences who might view the conversation in the future.

Ten years ago, Dell proved that engaging customers in online conversations resolved problems and increased customer loyalty. That still holds true today. The fact is, socially active brands are more in touch with their customers and more likely to retain current customers and win new ones.

6. Publish a well-designed website – Studies indicate that most “online shopping” is actually online researching, with 81% of consumers researching online before making a purchasing decision.

“Simply put, not having an effective and engaging small business website is a major obstacle for your business growth and success. Even if you have a brick-and-mortar business potential consumers will look for you online first. If they do not find your small business they will go to one of your competitors. Is that really what you want?”

 

Source: ESPRESSO.digital

Your website can promote your brand 24/7, but it’s crucial that it’s easy to navigate, frequently updated, and built upon a responsive platform that is mobile friendly.

7. Start a blog and keep it updated – According to a study by Ignite, businesses with blogs generate 126% more leads than those without a blog. Additionally, 61% of consumers say they’ve made a purchase after reading at least one blog post. Keep in mind, too, that blogs with fresh content can boost search marketing efforts and increase SEO traffic.

Before you start blogging, conduct some research to identify your target audience and create a content strategy so you can start off on the right foot.

8. Start an email marketing campaign – Forbes hints that email marketing is still more effective than social media marketing. When used properly, email marketing continues to be the most cost-effective way to generate leads and acquire customers.

As Inc points out, email marketing is an easy way to reach mobile customers without investing in new technology or software. Additionally, email is an inexpensive and effective way of keeping customers informed. Plus, it’s a versatile marketing strategy that lets you do everything from sending newsletters to offering coupons for in-store purchases.

9. Educate yourself on local SEO knowledge – Want to grow website traffic without hiring an online marketing specialist? Spend a little time learning some local SEO knowledge on your own. You don’t have to be an expert and there are many free resources out there to help educate you.

Conclusion

Digital resources that can benefit the physical retail store are often ignored based on misconceptions that it’s too expensive, time-consuming, and not as effective as traditional marketing methods.

Online marketing, however, presents some of the best opportunities to drive local foot traffic and in-store sales. Use the 9 methods outlined above to earn more customers at low or no cost.

About Author

Sherene Funk

Sherene Funk is a voracious reader who owns more books than she can ever read in this lifetime (but that doesn't stop her from collecting more). A graduate of Brigham Young University, she has published several humorous non-fiction articles and worked in advertising for many years before moving to her current position as a writer on modern retailing at Rain Retail Software. She researches non-stop to see what successful retailers do and loves to share what she learns with other small business owners through informative articles that address their unique needs.

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